Intel to Offer Online TV Service by End of 2013

The chip maker, which announced the program in February, says there should be enough content available for a launch this year.

Intel officials are prepared to begin selling a set-top box later this year, enabling customers to receive taped and live programming over the Internet.

At the TV of Tomorrow conference June 25, Eric Free, vice president and general manager of content and services at Intel Media, said the company was on track to sell the set-top boxes and provide content before the end of 2013, according to a report by Bloomberg.

“Ultimately we want to deliver a better form of television,” Free said, according to the report. “We’re very confident we’ll get the content we need to launch later this year.”

Speculation about Intel’s interest in Internet TV arose last year, and company officials officially announced their intentions in February. The plan calls for the world's largest chip maker to make set-top boxes that will enable consumers to bring TV shows, on-demand content, live events and other services into their televisions and other devices via the Internet.

The goal is to enable consumers—who are getting accustomed to getting online content when and where they want it, rather than having to watch it on a schedule—to have the freedom to order and pay for whatever shows they want, without having to pay for content and channels they don’t want, Free said.

“One of the places where innovation really hasn’t happened, at least not at the pace of your phone, your tablet or your laptop, is really within the pay-TV stack,” he said, according to Bloomberg.

However, it’s that content that reportedly has been a challenge. Intel’s efforts will set up more competition for such established cable and satellite media companies as Dish, DirecTV and Time Warner Cable. According to reports in places like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, companies like these are using their influence with the cable channels in hopes of keeping them from signing contracts with Intel and others with similar ideas.

Intel officials initially were expected to formally announce their Internet TV plans in January at the Consumer Electronics Show. However, no announcement came, and reports indicated that the delays were caused by the giant chip maker’s challenges in getting licensing agreements from content producers.

Intel officials now believe they will have enough content in place to begin selling the set-top boxes later this year. However, they have declined to be more specific on launch dates.

Intel’s Free reportedly said during the TV of Tomorrow conference that Intel’s nationwide rollout could be staggered because of issues around negotiating for content not only on the national level, but also on the local level. In addition, Intel and content providers are trying to figure out how to measure the digital audience for advertising purposes.

Despite the challenges, Intel already is testing the TV service with thousands of its own employees, according to a report in Cnet. Unnamed sources told the news site that more than 2,000 employees in Northern California, Arizona and Oregon are testing the set-top boxes and service at home, and that the number could continue to grow.